No detention without valid reasons, rules SC

No detention without valid reasons, rules SC

'It will amount to infringement of fundamental rights'

No detention without valid reasons, rules SC

Giving reasons for the release of a Polish national from preventive detention in Chennai, a bench comprising Justices Dalveer Bhandari and H L Dattu said: “Preventive detention essentially deals with the curtailment of a person’s liberty and is therefore a potential weapon for human rights abuses.’’

The judgement said persons found guilty of economic offences have to be dealt with a firm hand, but when it comes to fundamental rights under the Constitution, the court, irrespective of the enormity and gravity of the allegations made against the detenu, has to intervene.

Gimik Piotr, a Polish citizen running a business in Singapore, was detained by the Tamil Nadu Government authorities on September 7, 2008 under the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act 1974, at the Chennai Central Jail due to apprehension that if released he would indulge in smuggling of foreign currency. On detention he was found to be in possession of a huge amount of Indian and foreign currency.

Even though he admitted that he was carrying £ 2300 and $ 400, he was actually in possession of 15,500 euros, $39,700, £16,200 and Rs 30,000 and Rs 40,72,878 pasted to six pieces of newspapers.

He admitted to officials that he was involved in the smuggling of foreign currency and was getting paid for the illegal act.

However, the bench observed that the gravity of the offence could not be a justification for invading the personal liberty of a citizen, except in accordance with the procedures established by law. On October 28, the court had ordered the release of Piotr on a petition challenging his detention for the past two years without any valid reasons.

In the said case, as the facts reveal, there was no pressing need to curtail the liberty of a person by passing a preventive detention order. Foreign currency cannot be smuggled as the person cannot move out of the country as his passport has been impounded, said the order.

Piotr had challenged the Chennai HC ruling that upheld the detention order of the government authorities.